LONDON (CBS Atlanta) – While by no means over, researchers say we have a reached a significant milestone in the battle against cancer.
Half of all patients diagnosed today can expect to survive for at least 10 years; at that point, their prognosis is as good as if they didn’t have the disease, reports The Telegraph.
Health experts say the dramatic improvements in diagnosis and treatment means all sorts of cancers could soon be treated as a chronic condition instead of a death sentence.
Researchers studied data from more than 7 million cancer patients which shows survival rates in England and Wales have doubled since the 1970s.
The data shows dramatic improvements in survival rates for some of the most common forms of disease, including cancers of the breast, prostate and testes.
Dr. Harpal Kumar, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK says this is an important milestone. “The reason this 50 per cent figure is an important tipping point is it’s saying that, actually, now half of all patients will survive at least 10 years after a diagnosis, and for many it will be very much longer than that.”
Professor Michel Coleman, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “As a whole, patients who have survived that long no longer have any different chances of surviving than the rest of the population, in that sense, it would represent a ‘cure’”.
Rates of 10-year survival for testicular cancer rose from 69 cent to 98 per cent, and for malignant skin cancer from 46 per cent to 89 per cent.
Women with breast cancer now have a 78 per cent chance of surviving at least a decade, compared with 40 per cent in 1971, the data shows.
Meanwhile, the proportion of men living at least 10 years with prostate cancer rose from 25 per cent to around 80 per cent.
Dr Kumar said: “Twenty years from now we want to see three-quarters of all patients surviving at least 10 years following a diagnosis of cancer. That’s a big step forward from where we are today, but we firmly believe that’s achievable. We want three quarters of people who hear the words ‘You’ve got cancer’ to also hear the words ‘but you’ll be fine.'”
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